From the incredible food and famed nightlife to the abundance of culture, amazing architecture, and amazing hospitality, it’s no wonder Novi Sad is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Serbia.
In fact, many Serbian natives (especially those who live in Belgrade) flock to Novi Sad when they find themselves in need of a quick getaway. In this article, I have compiled a list of places to visit and things to do in Novi Sad for the most authentic experience, all with glowing recommendations from locals.
A couple of notes on Novi Sad’s history and its culture: Novi Sad was founded in 1694 by Serbs, and although an integral part of Serbian culture and history, it only became a part of Yugoslavia in 1918.
During its existence, it never belonged to the Ottoman Empire, unlike most of Serbia, so the Ottoman influence was quite minimal. The Uprising during the Spring of Nations in 1849 was cause for the bombing of Petrovaradin, which caused a lot of damage to the buildings in Novi Sad.
Additionally, as you can see from the three different religious buildings I’ve listed below, Novi Sad is a place where multiple cultures meet and mingle, making it truly unique.
What to See in Novi Sad
Novi Sad has always served as a cultural beacon for all of Serbia, thanks in part to its close connection to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many Serbian artists, authors and scientists come from this wonderful city.
Many of the buildings built in the classical Austrian style of the eighteenth and nineteenth century remain to this day, although some were destroyed in the bombing of 1849.
Just a walk through the old city center is an experience in itself, but I have compiled a list of interesting places to visit in Novi Sad when you’re here next.
Visit the Gallery of Matica Srpska
Founded in 1847, this museum holds the biggest collection of Serbian and other art from the region. These pieces were carefully collected over the years, many of them gifted to the Gallery by passionate art lovers and patriots.
Originally established in Pest (now a part of Budapest), it was moved to Novi Sad in 1864.
The significance of the Gallery lies in the fact that it collected art of the Serbian people, spread across the region, in one place – perhaps a close second to the ultimate goal of Serbian and Yugoslavian monarchs who attempted to collect all of the Serbian people in one country.
The Gallery is under the wing of Matica Srpska, without a doubt the most influential cultural establishment in Serbia.
The Gallery continuously has special themed exhibitions, so you might find something of particular interest to you during your stay. The permanent exhibition, however, is truly spectacular. The collections are chronologically organized by art movements, and I highly suggest checking out the Baroque, Biedermeier, and Religious Art collections.
Tickets are 100 dinars (less than one euro), and the Gallery also offers guided tours in English.
Explore the Museum of Contemporary Art
If you’re more of a contemporary art fiend, this is the perfect spot for you.
The Museum’s collection focuses mainly on contemporary art from the region – namely Vojvodina, but also the rest of Serbia and former Yugoslavian countries as well as Central Europe – but there is also a foreign art collection.
Snap photos at the pretty pink Bishop’s Palace
The original Bishop’s Palace was built in 1741, but it was destroyed in a bombing in 1849.
An interesting detail is that many of the Palace’s patrons complained about a pond nearby which, aside from emitting a quite unpleasant scent, also housed quite a few frogs that were often very noisy. In response to this, the new building, finished in 1901, was rotated so that the new entrance was facing away from the troublesome frogs!
In regards to the building itself, it’s an incredible mixture of Byzantine church and Serbian monastery architecture. You cannot enter the building, but the exterior is definitely a sight to see.
In front of the building, in the place where a large cross once stood, there is now a sculpture of Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, one of the most important poets in Serbian history. He used to walk along this street every single day.
Check out Novi Sad’s main Orthodox Church
Located next to the Bishop’s palace, this building is a great spot to visit next.
Originally built around 1734, it was completely destroyed in the bombing of Petrovaradin in 1849, during the uprising against the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
None of the original church plans were saved, so we don’t actually know what the first building looked like, but this one was reconstructed quickly, by 1853.
With beautiful stained glass and wonderful icons painted in part by one of the most prominent Serbian artists, Paja Jovanović, it truly is a sight to see.
Marvel at the lovely the Name of Mary Church
After Belgrade fell under the Ottoman Empire in 1739, many of the wealthy Catholics migrated north to Novi Sad, where they settled.
The original building was far more modest than the one that survives today, so it was torn down at the insistence of the Catholic community, and a new one more fitting of their wealthy status was erected.
The second building was, however, badly damaged in 1849, and afterwards, after a couple of iterations of the belfry, the community was finally happy with the one that remains today.
With four altars, each of them depicting biblical scenes and characters, an organ, and imposing height of 72 meters, this impressive building is on par with ones in much bigger cities.
Visit the beautiful Novi Sad Synagogue
Once an integral part of the Jewish community in Novi Sad, this beautiful complex of Art Nouveau buildings is a landmark of Novi Sad.
While no longer used for religious ceremonies, it has spectacular acoustics, so it’s a preferred location for many concerts.
Explore the Petrovaradin Fortress and its Catacombs
The stunning Petrovaradin Fortress looks over the Danube from one of the river’s widest points, on the other side of the river from Novi Sad’s center. Its white clock tower is a main feature of the fortress, which is known for having its hour and minute hands reversed.
If you’re looking to avoid the classic tourist trap, here’s a more alternative way to experience Petrovaradin Fortress.
Located up to forty meters under sea level, this mysterious system of labyrinths, a city under a city, is a real treat for spooky mystery lovers like myself. Although many locals refer to it as catacombs, these tunnels were never used for burial.
A specifically interesting part of the systems is a tunnel that is positioned under the river Danube. There are even rumors about treasure hidden in the catacombs in the time of Napoleon’s rule, which attracted many explorers over the years, while the tunnels were completely open to the public. No one has found it yet, but that only means it might still be there!
Guided tours are available. Note: You definitely should not try to explore the catacombs on your own, as there have been many incidences of people getting lost in there!
I would also highly recommend the planetarium on the Petrovaradin fortress. How cool does observing the starry night sky from a medieval fortress sound?
Pay a visit to the Monument to the Victims of the Raid
This touching monument was erected in honor of the victims of the “January Raid”, an ethnic cleansing performed by Hungarian fascists in January 1942, when over a thousand people – Jewish, Serbian, and Roma – were killed in just three days.
The centerpiece of the monument is a bronze sculpture eponymously named “The Family,” representing exactly that – a mother, father, and child.
Festivals & Events in Novi Sad
While the EXIT Festival brings many thousands of people to Novi Sad each summer, here are some other festivals worth experiencing in Novi Sad!
Check out the local talent at the Street Musicians Festival
This awesome festival is a perfect representation of the eclectic and naturally artistic character Novi Sad possesses.
The main premise of the festival is mixing all musicians, from amateurs to professional buskers to established artists in its repertoire, and placing them all on the wonderful and picturesque streets of Novi Sad, where, according to the creators, art always belongs.
With the backdrop of the old city center, this is truly an unmissable experience, and something locals look forward to every September, just as summer is wrapping up.
Turn the city into your movie theater at the Cinema City Festival
If you’re in Novi Sad in September, you’re in luck! Cinema City is exactly what it sounds like – the entire city becomes one big cinema.
The focus of this festival is international indie film, so you know you’re in for a treat.
Get cultured during the Night of The Museums
In case you couldn’t decide between some of the spots I’ve listed above, why not visit them all, and more?
During this festival (which takes place on the third Saturday in May), all museums and other cultural objects, including some that aren’t usually open to the public, open their doors until midnight.
Aside from regular exhibitions, most museums will also have special themed exhibitions and programs. Possibly the best part – one ticket priced at around 400 dinars (less than four euro) will get you into every museum! This event also takes place in Belgrade and Niš at the same time.
Novi Sad Nightlife
The Serbian nightlife scene definitely has a reputation for being an unmissable part of your trip.
Even though Belgrade is considered party central, Novi Sad follows closely with its plethora of nightlife locales ranging from pubs and breweries to incredibly cool clubs.
After a day of sightseeing, it’s time to let your hair down and party like a local!
Bar hop down Laze Teleckog street
Named after a famous Serbian theatre actor, director, and member of the SANU (Serbian Academy of Arts and Science), Laze Teleckog street is the place to be in Novi Sad.
While it has always been renowned as a cool location with plenty of amazing live music, a laid back atmosphere, and fun-loving young people as its main patrons, the profile of its visitors has shifted slightly.
You can, however, pick your poison and choose one (or multiple, which is how the locals do it!) of the many locales riddling this interesting and colorful (metaphorically and literally) street.
From pubs playing retro foreign music and the famed ex-yu genre, to clubs with popular foreign and local music, you can’t possibly leave without having a fantastic time.
Some of the favorites are London Pub, Lazino Tele, Marta’s Pub, and Cactus Bar.
Party at the hip Firche Think Tank Studio
This club is owned by the drummer of the band EKV, one of the most famous ex-yu bands, so you can be sure that the music here is amazing.
On top of that, the retro, laid-back and simply cool atmosphere and incredibly cheap drinks make this a fantastic party spot.
Check out the youthful Dom B612
Located in an abandoned hangar, this cult spot for locals is actually managed by students from the University of Novi Sad, and it was created in response to a lack of places specifically geared towards students.
As far as music goes, this club is dedicated to shining a spotlight on music that isn’t in the mainstream, and, since it’s meant for students, you can expect prices to be very affordable.
Oh, and if B612 sounds familiar, that’s the name of the asteroid The Little Prince called home!
Party VIP-style at Paradiso
If you’re looking for a more upscale affair, this multi-level club is sure to deliver.
Fancy drinks, fancy dress and popular Serbian and foreign club music (often times housing popular Serbian singers in live performances) are what makes this club very popular with locals.
What to Eat in Novi Sad
After all that exploring and partying, you’re bound to be quite hungry!
I’ve come up with a list of my favorite places, ranging from fancy and incredibly delicious spots to cheap, amazing fast food joints for when you’ve run out of money towards the end of your trip (we’ve all been there) or are drunkenly roaming the streets looking for a bite to eat.
Try the tasty Index Sandwich
This is a Novi Sad classic, and not to mention, incredibly delicious!
The name index comes from the fact that the sandwich was created for students (who are, let’s be real, pretty penniless) as a super cheap, super filling meal. (Students in Serbia use booklets called Indexes which contain all of their information, grades, subjects and such.)
The Index is made in a bread roll and filled with all manner of food, but the backbone of the sandwich is generally ham, cheese (lots of cheese) and mushrooms, and then the whole concoction is toasted. Yum!
Pro Tip: Especially amazing at three-ish in the morning after a heavy night of drinking.
You’ll find this delicacy pretty much everywhere you turn in Novi Sad, but you can get the OG Index at Vanessa Index, and Index House is probably the most popular spot.
Snack on a delicious crepe at Disney Crepes
Crepes are a Serbian favorite, especially when they’re massive and dripping in Nutella.
You’ll find crepes all over the city, but this place has a really good reputation! Pro Tip: this place lets you double your filling of choice.
Have a late-night snack at the fast food joints on Laze Teleckog Street
Since this is party central, it also has a large concentration of these kinds of places that are open 24/7 and have low prices and really good food.
If you’re feeling like pizza, I recommend Donna where you can get pizza by the slice, and if you’re a fan of Gyros, you’ll love Giros Land (it’s right opposite London Pub).
Dine in style at Petrus
This restaurant is on the more expensive end of the spectrum (which is not a very pricey spectrum to begin with in Serbia), but the food is worth every penny.
Here you’ll find a typical menu with burgers, steaks, pizza, desserts and so on. I would especially recommend the cocktails here – they are seriously amazing.
Of course, this article shows just some of many of my favorite spots in Novi Sad, which just goes to show you how much there is to experience here. I hope this little guide will help you make your stay an experience to remember!
Where to Stay in Novi Sad
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Novi Sad. Generally, budget means hostel beds for around $10 a night and singles/doubles for around $30, mid-range is from about $40-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.
Luxury: Since Novi Sad in winter is definitely the offseason, we wouldn’t be surprised if you could snag a fantastic deal on one of these top luxury hotels in Novi Sad: Prezident Hotel or Hotel Leopold I
Planning to visit Belgrade as well on your trip? We’ve curated a list of all the best Belgrade hotels and hostels.
More Novi Sad & Serbia Travel Resources
Hopefully, you can get a good idea of what there is to do in Novi Sad in this post, but if you want more inspiration, we have a guide of the best Instagram spots in Novi Sad as well as what to do in Novi Sad in winter.
Most people to visit Novi Sad also allocate some time for Belgrade – where we have tons of resources. We have this mega-guide to 101 things to do in Belgrade, the most Instagrammable spots in Belgrade, and the best Belgrade street art. We also have a Serbian souvenir guide if you want to do some shopping.
If you love guided tours, here are eleven great Belgrade tours to pick from. If you want to get out of the city for a day, here are our guide to Belgrade day trips and what you should know before renting a car in Serbia. We also have lists of our favorite places to visit in Serbia and the best Serbian towns and cities if you need more day trip inspiration.
Headed to Serbia? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
If you’re planning a trip to Serbia, it’s a good idea to travel with a valid travel insurance policy, so that you will be covered in case of an emergency. Travel insurance covers you in case of theft or an accident, which can save your trip if there’s an incident, fall (a big winter risk!), or cancellation or trip interruption.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Marija was born and raised in Belgrade, where she is currently living and attending medical school. She listens to way too many podcasts, adores all furry creatures, cozy afternoons snuggled up with a book, and spending time with friends over really good wine.